Outdoors

Celebrate New Year’s Day on a State Parks First Day Hike

There will be a beach walk and nature walk at Dash Point State Park Jan.1, part of the First Day Hikes offered by Wahsington State Parks.
There will be a beach walk and nature walk at Dash Point State Park Jan.1, part of the First Day Hikes offered by Wahsington State Parks. Staff file, 2012

Sure you could spend New Year’s Day watching any or all of the college football bowl games.

If you want an outdoors adventure, there are multiple polar plunges that will take places that day.

But if you want to get outside, without jumping into frigid water, consider taking part in a First Day Hike being offered by Washington State Parks. The agency will celebrate the start of 2016 by offering a hike at more than two dozen state parks.

As an added bonus, a Discover Card will not be required Jan. 1 to enter any of the state’s more than 100 state parks.

State Parks is encouraging Washington residents to start the new year with a healthy hike and connect with the diverse natural resources and recreation opportunities found at state parks across the state, said Don Hoch, State Parks director.

We hope folks will get their families out to join us for some healthy outdoor activity in the parks on New Year’s Day.

Don Hoch, director of Washington State Parks

The offerings will include guided hikes, fat-tire bike rides, snowshoe walks and a 5-kilometer run. Most parks will also provide refreshments, thanks to a donation from the Washington State Employees Credit Union and the Manufactured Home and Recreational Vehicle Association.

“We’re very excited to once again join other state park systems across the country in the First Day Hikes program,” Hoch said in a prepared statement. “Washington was among the first states to participate when the event began, and we’re pleased this year to be offering more than 25 First Day Hikes in Washington state parks. We hope folks will get their families out to join us for some healthy outdoor activity in the parks on New Year’s Day.”

The First Day Hikes are part of a national initiative organized by the National Association of State Park Directors. The nationwide event started at Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts, more than 25 years ago. Since 2013, all 50 state park systems have participated in the First Day Hikes program.

Here is a look at some of the First Day Hikes easily reached by South Sound residents:

Cedar Butte (Olallie and Iron Horse state parks): This ranger-led, 3-mile hike will take participants up to the top of Cedar Butte to learn about the significant 1918 flood that wiped out a nearby logging town. Meet at 10 a.m. at Cedar Falls Trailhead in Iron Horse State Park.

Dash Point: Take a nature walk at 10 a.m. or a beach walk at noon — or both. A park volunteer will also lead a Junior Ranger program at 11 a.m. at the amphitheater. Hikers should also meet at the amphitheater.

Dosewallips: Take a 3  1/2-mile hike along the Steam Donkey Loop Trail — where the saltwater habitat and Northwest forest meet. Meet at 11 a.m. at the day-use shelter.

Flaming Geyser: Learn about this park’s role in regional mining history while exploring the local flora and fauna. Part of the tour involves hiking a steep staircase. Meet at 10:30 a.m. at Shelter 2.

Fort Flagler: The ranger-led 3-mile roundtrip hike will take participants along the Bluff Trail, with a chance to explore the fort’s historical gun batteries and enjoy the views of Port Townsend Bay and Admiralty Inlet. Meet at 11 a.m. at the park office.

Fort Worden: Following a brief historical talk, take a hike up to Artillery Hill and explore the many coastal defense gun batteries in the park. Meet at 1 p.m. at Memory’s Vault.

Lake Sylvia: Learn about the history, native plants and animals of the area. A park ranger will lead a 2-mile hike along the trail that loops around the lake. A volunteer will lead a shorter hike as well. Meet at 1 p.m. at the kitchen area.

Millersylvania: This is a 5-kilometer run, led by a local ranger, around the perimeter of Deep Lake. Meet at 9 a.m. at Kitchen Shelter No. 1.

Nolte: This family-friendly hike around Deep Lake will wander through the forested Green River Gorge. Meet at 10:30 a.m. at the park’s main bulletin board.

Potlatch: A park ranger will lead hikers through an old-growth fir forest down to a shellfish beach on the shores of Hood Canal. Meet at 10 a.m. at the day-use area near the beach.

Saltwater: Explore the legacy and influence of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built much of the park during the Great Depression. Take a nature walk, beginning at 10 a.m. and/or a beach walk at noon. Tour the CCC Cabin during an open house from 10 a.m.-noon. Meet at the CCC cabin.

Twanoh: This hike combines history and nature on a 2 1/4-mile hike through a forested creek and by Civilian Conservation Corps structures built in the 1930s. Meet at 10 a.m. at the campground.

Westport Light: Take a 45-minute guided hike to learn more about the history of the area and gain some insight on the dynamic nature of the Pacific coast. Meet at 10 a.m. at the park.

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640

Learn more

You can get details on all the First Day Hikes at http://adventureawaits.com/2015/12/adventure-first-day-hikes-2016.

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